Pope Francis presided over the Mass at the Casa Santa Marta Tuesday, and began with a prayer for unity:

We pray that the Lord will give us the grace of unity among us. May the difficulties of this time make us discover the communion between us, the unity that is always superior to any division.

In his homily, the pontiff commented on the first reading: a passage taken from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:36-41), in which Peter openly announces to the Jews that God has made Jesus Lord and Christ, Jesus whom they have crucified. At these words many feel their hearts pierced and converted.

“To convert”, said the Pope, “is to be faithful again, a human attitude that is not so common in our lives: faithfulness in good times and bad”.

“Faithfulness also in insecurity. Our certainties are not the ones that the Lord gives us; our certainties are idols and make us unfaithful.

“Our life and the history of the Church are full of unfaithfulness”.

The Pope ended his homily with today’s Gospel (Jn 20:11-18), in which the risen Jesus appears to Mary of Magdala, weeping near the tomb.

A weak but faithful woman, faithful even in front of the tomb; in the face of the collapse of illusions, she became the “apostle to the apostles”.

Let us ask God, the Pope concluded, to protect us from unfaithfulness.

Full text of the Pope’s homily

Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost pierced the hearts of the people: “He whom you have crucified has risen”.

“Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘What are we to do, brothers?'”

And Peter is clear:

“Convert”. Convert. Change your lives. You who have received the promise of God, you who have departed from the Law of God, of many things of his, idols, many things… convert. To faithfulness. Converting is this: to be faithful again.

Faithfulness, that human attitude that is not so common in people’s lives, in our lives. There are always illusions that distract attention and many times we want to go after these illusions. Faithfulness, in good times and bad.

There is a passage from the Second Book of Chronicles that strikes me very much. It’s in chapter 12, at the beginning.

“When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he grew strong”, it says, “he abandoned the law of the Lord, he and all Israel with him”.

That’s what the Bible says. It’s a historical fact, but it’s also a universal fact. Many times, when we feel safe, we start to make our plans and slowly move away from the Lord; we do not remain faithful.

And my security is not what the Lord gives me. It is an idol.

This is what happened to Rehoboam and the people of Israel. He felt safe, a consolidated kingdom; he turned away from the law and began to worship idols.

Yes, we can say: “Father, I don’t kneel before idols”. No, perhaps you don’t kneel, but perhaps you look for them and so many times in your heart you adore idols, it’s true. Many times. Self-security opens the door to idols.

But is your self-security wrong? No, it’s a grace. To be sure, but also to be sure that the Lord is with me. But when there is security and I’m in the centre, I move away from the Lord, like King Rehoboam; I become unfaithful.

It’s so difficult to maintain loyalty.

The entire history of Israel, and then the entire history of the Church, is full of unfaithfulness. Full of selfishness and self-assuredness that cause the people of God to distance themselves from the Lord [and] lose that faithfulness, the grace of faithfulness. And even among us, among people, faithfulness is not a virtue that is highly valued. One is not faithful to the other, the other… “Repent, be faithful to the Lord again”.

And in the Gospel, the icon of fidelity: that faithful woman who never forgot everything the Lord did for her. She was there, faithful, facing the impossible, facing the tragedy, a faithfulness that also makes her think that she is capable of bearing the body… A weak but faithful woman. The icon of the faithfulness of Mary of Magdala, apostle to the apostles.

Let us ask the Lord today for the grace of faithfulness: to give thanks when he gives us certainties, but may we never think that they are “my” certainties.

And always, let us look beyond our own certainties; the grace to be faithful even before the tombs, before the collapse of so many illusions.

Faithfulness, which always remains, but is not easy to maintain.

May He, the Lord, be the one to keep it.

(Source: Vatican News; translation: Novena)

Next on Novena:

More of the Pope’s Santa Marta homilies

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.